True Beauty

Shines from within, pure, timeless, immortal. No makeup, no cosmetics – not even a whole face – required.

Fragmentary colossal marble head of a youth
Greek, Hellenistic period, 2nd century B.C.
Discovered at Pergamon, on upper terrace of gymnasium, 1879

Although this extraordinary head has long been known, its function and importance have only recently been understood. The youth, with long curling locks and a brooding expression, was originally part of a draped bust set into a marble roundel almost four feet in diameter. It is probably among the earliest known sculptures of this type (imagines clipeatae) in marble and over life-size in scale. It would have been one of several that adorned the walls of a particularly grand space in the gymnasium of ancient Pergamon. He may represent a young god or possibly Alexander the Great. Even in its damaged condition, the head exemplifies the combination of sensitivity and presence characteristic of the finest Hellenistic Pergamene sculpture. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

May 28th, 2017

Room Service @ The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sometimes I like to wander in and out of the period rooms, so elegant and opulent, so meticulously arranged down to the last detail, and imagine how it would be to live in places like these:  Formal Reception Room from the Hôtel de Tessé at 1, quai Voltaire, Paris.

Room from the Hôtel de Varengeville at 217, boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris.

The Lauzun Room (Hôtel Lauzun at 17, quai d’Anjou, Ile Saint-Louis).

Back Panels of Choir Stalls
From choir stalls made by the cabinetmaker Johan Justus Schacht with the help of twenty-one assistants for the church of the Carthusian monastery in Mainz.
Panels: oak veneered with walnut, boxwood, rosewood, ebony, maple and other woods, ivory, green-stained horn and pewter.
Figures: carved and painted limewood
Mainz, 1723-26 with additions from 1787

Would my dreams be any different under this canopy?

This armoire had me wondering how much more detail could one squeeze on a single piece of furniture: Armoire
Oak veneered with walnut and marquetry woods and set with silvered-bronze mounts
Design by Jean Brandley (active 1855-67)
Woodwork by Charles-Guillaume Diehl (1811-about 1885)
Mounts by Emmanuel Frémiet (1824-1910)
French (Paris), 1867

The central plaque of this ”Merovingian” armoire depicts the victory of the troops of King Merovech over the forces of Attila the Hun in 451. The prototype, a medal cabinet made for the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867, is in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. This armoire was commissioned by the cabinetmaker Diehl for his country house at Lagny.

Secrétaire à abattant
Walnut, parcel-ebonized and inlaid with various woods; mounted with gilt bronze; leather, glass, brass
Austrian, ca. 1815-20, with later additions.

Pair of side chairs
Attributed to Josef Danhauser (1780-1829)
Beech and pine wood, cherry wood veneer and ebonized mahogany; covered in silk not original to chair
Austrian (Vienna), ca. 1815-20

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

May 28th, 2017

Irving Penn || Centennial

In 2017, Irving Penn (1917–2009) would have been one hundred years old. To mark the occasion, The Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted ”Irving Penn: Centennial”, in collaboration with The Irving Penn Foundation. It was the most comprehensive retrospective to date of the work of the great American photographer.

Here are some photos of the photos (and reflections thereof) which I hope you’ll enjoy :-

Image titles:

1/ Irving Penn: Centennial
2-3/ Roleiflex 3.5 E3 Twin-Lens Reflex Camera with 75 mm Carl Zeiss Planar Lens, 1961-64. Irving Penn acquired this camera in 1964 and used it and other similar models for portrait sittings for the next four decades. It is topped with a modified Hasselblad chimney viewfinder and mounted on a Tiltall pan/tilt head above a table tripod of the artist’s own design.
4/Carl Erickson and Elise Daniels, New York, 1947
5/Charles James, New York, 1948
Marcel Duchamp, New York, 1948
Alfred Hitchcock, New York, 1947
Dusek Brothers, New York, ca. 1948
Ballet Society, New York, 1948
The Tarot Reader (Bridget Tichenor and Jean Patchett), New York, 1949
Black and White Fashion with Handbag (Jean Patchett), New York, 1950
Vogue covers: Between 1943 and 2004 Penn produced photographs for 165 Vogue magazine covers, more than any other artist to date.
Vogue Fashion Photography (Jean Patchett), New York, 1949
Woman with Roses (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in Lafaurie Dress), Paris, 1950
Girl Drinking (Mary Jane Russell), New York, 1949
16/Man Lighting Girl’s Cigarette (Jean Patchett), New York, 1949
Many Skirted Indian Woman, Cuzco, 1948
Cuzco Children, 1948
Butcher, London, 1950
Facteur (Mailman), Paris, 1950
Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, 1957
Francis Bacon, London, 1962
Cecil Beaton, London, 1950
Cat Woman, New Guinea, 1970
Two Guedras, Morocco, 1971
Four Guedras, Morocco, 1971
Not an Irvin Penn image but the type of background he would frequently use, New York, 2017
Birgitta Klercker – Long Hair with Bathing Suit, New York, 1966
Clockwise from left: Ingmar Bergmann, Stockholm, 1964 – Alvin Ailey, New York, 1971 – S. J. Perelman, New York, 1962 – Tom Wolfe, New York, 1966
Truman Capote, New York, 1965
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, New York, 1993
Three Poppies ‘Arab Chief’, New York, 1969
Girl with Tobacco on Tongue (Mary Jane Russell), New York, 1951

The Met

May 28th, 2017

Meet Peder Balke || Painter of Northern Light

The North Cape by Moonlight, 1848
Oil on canvas

Finnmark Landscape, ca. 1860
Oil on canvas

Seascape, 1870s
Oil on wood

Northern Lights, 1870s
Oil on wood

To produce this striking image, Balke first applied a thin layer of paint for the sky and then a thicker one for the water. Subsequently, he removed paint with a serrated device to reveal the white ground layer, producing the effects of the lights. Finally, he added details such as the coastline and boats with a brush. 

Seascape, ca. 1845
Oil on canvas, mounted on masonite

Majestic mountains and immense, churning clouds are indifferent to the course of a steamer chugging along the coast, trailed by gulls. This work, a tour de force of Balke’s ability to dematerialize form through the use of a limited palette, strikes a balance between painterly effect and a poetic vision that aspires to the Sublime. 

Moonlit View of Stockholm, ca. 1850
Oil on panel

Incredibly, I had to cross the Atlantic to see these wonderfully poetic works and even learn about the existence of this artist.

Images from an exhibition of 17 paintings by Peder Balke, presented at The Met in 2017.

May 28th, 2017

Cityscapes || More Pollution

It takes all kinds…!

PS: I did watch the film and really wanted to like it. Maybe my expectations were too high or I’m just a grumpy old woman; either way it didn’t rate high on my list. But there is always number 2 which looks promising, if only because it features Diana in a glam ’80s costume – that alone is a sight to behold!

Midtown Manhattan

May 27th, 2017

Crossing the river to Hoboken

Believe it or not, there is a whole other world out there, beyond Manhattan and the City. Like Hoboken, for example. This town on the Hudson Waterfront, which an outsider might mistake for an extension of New York, is actually sitting in New Jersey. Easily accessible by car, train or ferry, it is a great alternative for walks alongside the river.

Starting with Hoboken Terminal, the main transportation hub and a magnificent example of Beaux Arts architecture. Just look at the exterior with a steampunk industrial feel and this incredible waiting room, bathed in natural light coming from its Tiffany stained glass skylight!

But the main attraction is, of course, a walk on the waterfront offering some of the best, unobstructed views of West Manhattan, all the way down to its lower tip.

Not forgetting the famous lobster tails, freshly baked directly at the source: Carlo’s Bakery.

For our first visit to Hoboken, we took the PATH from 33rd Street (smooth transit, no delays, no crowds – but it was Saturday…). Next time, which will hopefully be soon, we’ll try the ferry, which is always much more fun than travelling through a dark tunnel, underwater.

May 27th, 2017